Autistic Child Suspended for Drawing Cartoon Bomb
“They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent”
Oct. 16, 2013
A 13-year old special needs child named Rhett Parham, has been suspended from Hillcrest Middle School in Simpsonville, S.C. for drawing a picture of a cartoon bomb.
A report by WYFF-TV reveals the teen, who is autistic, drew the picture at home and brought it to school where he showed some older students. Those older classmates then reported the drawing to school officials, which subsequently resulted in Parham’s suspension.
The teenager replicated the cartoon bomb from a Nintendo 64 video game called Bomberman 64, one of his favorite games.
Parham’s mother Amy, was shocked when she received the call from his middle school and initially thought they were joking.
“People know that he has autism, he has an official diagnosis,” said his mother.
“They know that he communicates differently, it’s obvious when you communicate with him that he doesn’t, you know, speak the same way, and communicate and think the same way as typical children.”
While Miss Parham understands the importance of school safety, she’s urging the middle school to reevaluate its policy on what they perceive as a threat.
“They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent,” said Parham.
“They knew he was not actually having a bomb, creating or making a bomb. But that they could not go with out making an example of him and take some type of action because they were worried about their perception. Perception is actually the word he used. Perception is reality, and parents might think you have a bomb or [might be] violent.”
She plans to meet with school officials Wednesday.
The Greenville County District Spokesman, Oby Lyes, defended the school’s actions.
“It is important and necessary to thoroughly investigate any threat to student safety, including a student’s intent,” said Lyes.
“…This is one of the most difficult judgements a school official must make…This investigation began when threatening comments were made, resulting in the responsible removal of the student from the school to ensure everyone’s safety while the incident and intent were assessed. The school’s administration responded appropriately to the severity of this incident.”
Meanwhile, 13-year old Rhett is suspended indefinitely.